Creative Capital Congratulates Jeffrey Gibson on the 60th Venice Biennale!

Creative Capital celebrates Jeffrey Gibson (Choctaw/Cherokee), 2005 Creative Capital Awardee, who has made history this year as the first Indigenous artist to represent the US at the Venice Biennale. Jeffrey Gibson: the space in which to place me, invites reflection on individual and collective identities through sculpture, painting, video, and multimedia installation, with the title of the exhibition referencing Oglala Lakota poet Layli Long Soldier’s poem “Ȟe Sápa.”

“When I’m thinking about objects made by Native people, historically, the circumstances they were living in, it’s counterintuitive to think that the thing to do would have been to make something beautiful. I realized they made spaces of freedom,” —Jeffrey Gibson, “Representing the U.S. and Critiquing It in a Psychedelic Rainbow,” The New York Times

Gibson with studio assistants, from left: Paige Simpson, Immanuel Williams and Amanda Lees. They are working on details of a larger sculpture, “We Want to Be Free,” referencing the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, which made Native Americans U.S. citizens. Credit: Elliott Jerome Brown Jr. for The New York Times.

“[Jeffrey Gibson] received a Creative Capital grant that helped fund a series of trips he took around the country to visit Native makers and commission objects like silver engravings and drums from them. He incorporated those into his 2012 exhibition “one becomes the other” at the nonprofit Participant Inc. The show was a breakthrough.”—The New York Times

Bringing 160 Indigenous artists and leaders to Venice, Italy, Gibson transformed the vernissage opening of the US Pavilion, which has traditionally focused on a solo artist, to shine a light on an entire community. The music, dancing, and poetry shared with international audiences was a rare opportunity to experience the rich heritage and vibrant culture of Indigenous peoples.

Jeffrey Gibson: the space in which to place me, the US Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition: La Biennale di Venezia. Photo by Matteo de Mayda. Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia.

Recognized for an artistic practice that combines American, Indigenous, and Queer histories with influences from music and pop culture, Gibson creates a dynamic visual language that reflects the inherent diversity and hybridity of American culture. Using abundant color, complex pattern, and text, he invites deep reflection on identity, inspires empathy, and advocates for a widening of access to democracy and freedom for all.

Installation view of Jeffrey Gibson: the space in which to place me. Photo by Timothy Schenck.

Gibson received the Creative Capital Award nearly two decades ago and has always embodied a spirit of generosity by being a caring mentor and teacher to countless artists through Creative Capital’s professional development programs over the years. Creative Capital is proud to be a sustaining supporter of this year’s US Pavilion.

On view through November 24, 2024, Jeffrey Gibson: the space in which to place me provides audiences with the first major opportunity to experience Gibson’s work outside of America.

Exterior view of Jeffrey Gibson: the space in which to place me. Photo by Christine Kuan.